Denim Faux Finish Technique
The Denim Faux Finish. It’s a fun look for a child’s room, a home office, or a family space…as comfortable as an old pair of jeans. The color palette can range anywhere from a nearly white (stonewashed) look, to a deep indigo. Nearly all paint and home improvement stores will be able to offer you brochures and flyers outlining the color selections available for the denim faux finish technique.
This technique will create the look of panels of faux denim, similar to wallpaper panels. This is a three-day technique. Allow a day for the base coats, and two days to complete the denim faux finish.
As with all faux finishes, I recommend perfecting your technique on a practice board before beginning on the walls.
Stop! Very Important! Before beginning, be sure your walls are properly prepared. Not sure? Take a look at our paint preparation instructions (opens in a new window).
Here is what you’ll need:
Necessary Paint Products
- Latex Semi-Gloss Paint (How much? Check out the
for help, opens in a new window.)
- Faux Technique Glaze
Necessary Paint Supplies and Applicators
- Denim Faux Finish Check Roller
- Denim Faux Finish Weaver Brush
- 3/8” Nap Roller Cover and Frame
- 2” Angled Nylon/Poly Brush
- 2” Painter’s Tape
- Lint-Free Rags
Painting Base Coats
Begin by taping around the ceiling, windows, doors, floor trim, and any other woodwork or trim that is present. Use a high-quality nylon-polyester brush to “cut in” around the ceiling and trim work.
Using a moderately-loaded 3/8” roller, roll on the semi-gloss base coat. When rolling, finish each section with a smooth ceiling-to-floor stroke to help eliminate roller marks.
Per paint manufacturer’s instructions, wait at least four, and preferably six, hours before applying the necessary second coat. Wait at least 24 hours for the second coat to dry before beginning the faux technique.
Preparing for the Denim Faux Finish
Here is where things get fun (and a little tricky) so hang with me. With this particular faux finish, the glaze needs to be worked fairly quickly after its application, so the walls need to be divided into equal, workable sections.
- Begin by measuring the total length of the walls that you intend to finish. For example, if you intend to do two adjoining walls, and they are both 6 feet long, you have 12 feet of wall to divide. Take the total length of your walls (in this example, 12 feet) and multiply that number by 12, to get the total number of inches (here, 144 inches).
The ideal section width is approximately 42 inches. Divide the total wall space (in inches) by 42. This will give you the total number of sections. In our example, this comes out to 3.4. Always round up to the next whole number. Here, we round up to 4 sections. 144” divided by 4 is 36” per section. Your twelve feet of wall space will need to be divided into four 36” sections.
Next, starting on one corner of your space, measure out your sections and mark them along the top of the walls with a piece of chalk. Do the same on the bottom of the walls. Now run your chalk in straight lines from ceiling to floor between your marks. These will serve as your taping guides. Be sure to wipe the chalk away after taping as it will show through the translucent glaze.
The seams between sections will be allowed to extend naturally through doors and windows, so do not worry if one or more of your seams runs directly through one.
The glaze will be applied on two separate days, to alternating sections. This makes it important to keep your tape outside of the sections being painted that day.
If a section wraps around a corner treat this as two separate sections and paint them on separate days.
Applying the Faux Technique Glaze
Begin by completely saturating your roller in the glaze. Allow the roller to soak up as much glaze as possible.
Glaze is translucent, and applies differently from paint. Your goal here is to apply a thin layer of glaze to the entire section without reloading your roller.
Once the entire section is covered (getting as close as you can to the ceiling and trim work), finish with light ceiling to floor strokes to even out roller marks. Don’t sweat if the glaze looks uneven or transparent.
Finally, use a brush to apply a thin layer of glaze to the areas near the ceiling and trim that the roller cannot reach. You want to work fairly quickly, as you want the glaze to remain workable for the next two steps.
The Denim Faux Finish Weaver Brush
Begin at the top left corner of your section and drag the denim weaver brush from left to right through the damp glaze in a single, smooth swipe. Start on the tape on one side of the section, and finish on the other, to keep paint from pooling and running on the edge of the paint.
Be sure the weaver brush is dry, and that you apply enough pressure to slightly bend the bristles when applying. Wipe the bristles on a lint-free rag between swipes.
Directly over top of this stroke, swipe the brush back in the opposite direction, from right to left, so that each horizontal strip will have two passes, one from each direction. Remember to wipe the glaze off of the bristles after each pass.
Repeat this left-to-right, right-to-left process for each strip until you reach the bottom of the section. If you are working in a corner, be sure to drag the brush away from the wall only.
Once you have completed the horizontal swipes of each section, begin the vertical swipes. The vertical swipes are done very lightly, without bending the bristles, in a single ceiling-to-floor stroke to avoid erasing the horizontal lines.
Repeat these vertical strokes over the entire section, wiping the bristles after each swipe.
The Denim Faux Finish Check Roller
The purpose of the denim faux finish check roller is to give the denim a very “worn” look, like a slightly faded (and very comfortable) pair of jeans.
Use the roller in horizontal and vertical passes over the entire section, wiping the roller on a lint-free cloth approximately every 10 feet. Continue to make passes with the roller until the denim faux finish takes on the worn look you desire.
Remove the tape along the vertical sections while the glaze is still wet, but leave the tape along the ceiling and trim work.
Day Two: Taping the Unfinished Sections
On the second day, you want to apply new tape flush with the seams from the day before, but on the already finished sections of the wall. In other words, you will apply glaze directly up to the edge of what you finished the day before. Simple enough, right?
Now simply repeat steps 3 thru 5 until all of the Day 2 sections are complete.
Removing the Tape
Remove the tape along the ceiling and trim work by gently running a utility knife or razor blade along the edge where the tape and glaze/paint meet, then pull off the tape very slowly.
Not so hard, is it? To read through the directions, the denim faux finish actually sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you begin the work and begin to follow the instructions step-by-step, it is a very simple and enjoyable experience.
Enjoy your wonderful new denim faux finish!
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